Monday, April 22, 2013

Clockwork creatures

I've had the best time drawing the arthropods and invertebrates from my most recent manuscript.

 Clock fly. I love their creepy little forelegs. Ugh.

My process is to draw them free-hand in pencil, then go back in with waterproof pen. If it's an insect, it's probably from my collection. For some of the sea creatures I had to use creative-commons photos as source material.

 Clock crab

Then I added watercolor. It was a little harrowing at first because I've never used watercolor before. It's so different from oil painting, but I think the effect works well with these drawings. I should probably add watercolor and then the ink, so the detail is more crisp.

These are in a 10 x 12 inch sketchbook. I haven't scanned them yet, so these are photos.

I think my favorites are the beetles-- but beetles are my favorite insects, so that makes sense.

 Clockbee- with open panel showing inner workings. This is the first one I made, and I can totally tell.

 Clockwasp. I like how the watercolor allows me to show the wings more clearly. In the manuscript these are larger than human size and used as the Queen's guard. Just imagine those spindly legs wrapping around your arm and squeezing hard. It even gives me the willies.

I'm not sure this would work mechanically-- I mean, clockwork wings would be incredibly heavy... but I wanted to fill that space with gears. Perhaps they're made of super-light super-thin material? I want to try this again with the normal damselfly wing pattern.

 Clockwork mantis. Such a great insect. It's no wonder so many people are fascinated with mantises.

The sea slug or nudibranch. I envision this as almost a Nautilus-like underwater attack vehicle. 

 The stag beetle. By this point I'm starting to show the gears as kind of curved on the edges so they make the surface look three-dimensional, not flat. I think this is my fave.

The clock weevil. I love weevils. I know they're often crop pests, but I just can't help it!

Do you make maps or sketches to envision elements of your writing?

Which of these do you think can be most improved? I think the bee, damselfly, and crab are the weakest, but I'd love feedback before I set pen to paper again.


  1. i love the weevil one, too.

    watercolours are so hard for me! i feel like i have no control. these look amazing!

  2. Yay- thanks, Nomes! I am still nervous with the watercolors. Control is definitely an issue. One good thing is that you can work right into it if you make a mistake, or add a little water and try to smooth things. I've done that a lot!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Nina-- it's lots of fun (very therapeutic!)

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Eliza! I have had so much fun making them. I'm still working to improve some of them, but I'm happy with how they're turning out.


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